Ola Sigurdson


Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and
Visiting address
Läraregatan 3A
411 33 Göteborg
Postal address
Box 200
405 30 Göteborg

About Ola Sigurdson

Research and Teaching

My research interests are found in the intersection between traditional systematic theology and Continental theory. Thus, I have reflected on the question of embodiment in theological tradition with the help of phenomenology in the monograph Heavenly Bodies (2006; eng. trans. 2016), on the relationship between humour, subjectivity and transcendence with the help of philosophical anthropology, psychoanalysis, and theology in the three-volume work Divine Comedies (2021), and on spatiality in Atmospheres: An Introduction. Further, I have inquired about the relation between religion and politics in The Happy Philosophy (2000), The Post-secular Condition (2009) and Theology and Marxism in Eagleton and Žižek: A Conspiracy of Hope (2012). All in all, I have published more than twenty monographs and anthologies in Swedish and English and more than a hundred articles.

My current research project concerns different aspects of spatiality in dialogue with architecture, phenomenology, and theology. The plan is to write five monographs on the following topics: atmospheres, thresholds, places, cities, and numinous spaces. I have also recently completed a research project on the relation between humour, subjectivity, and transcendence, published in a number of articles in Swedish and English but above all in the above mentioned three-volume work Divine Comedies (2021; currently in Swedish only). In addition to this, my Swedish translations of two books by the German philosopher and theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher: On Religion (the first edition from 1799) and Christmas Eve Celebration (the second edition from 1826) will be published in 2023.

I have repeatedly had the opportunity of spending time as guest researcher or guest professor in various academic venues. Spring term 2000 I spent at SCASS, Uppsala University, and the academic year 2001-2002 at Centre for Advanced Religious and Theological Studies (CARTS), Faculty of Divinity and Wolfson College, both at Cambridge University, UK. During the year 2010–2011 I visited Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton, as a fellow. I have also made shorter visits as a guest researcher in Nagoya, Japan (2015), Stellenbosch, South Africa (2015), Oxford, UK (2017, 2018), and as a guest professor at the Institute of Sino-Christian Studies in Hong Kong, China, 2019 and (virtually) 2021.

Between July 1 2011 and June 20 2017, I was director of the Centre for Culture and Health at the University of Gothenburg, an initiative from the university to bring together and create a multi-disciplinary research centre. Since January 1 2017 I am the chairperson of the steering committee for Jonsered Manor, a meeting point for intimate discussion on urgent societal questions by scholars and society.

I have supervised five doctoral students to their exam and another four as their co-supervisor.

Other Activities and Duties

Beyond my employment as a researcher and teacher at the University of Gothenburg, I am active as a guest lecturer, external examiner, and expert at different universities and conferences in Sweden, Europe, USA, Asia, and Africa. I am also employed as a guest lecturer in different public contexts and have been a regular contributor to the Göteborg Book Fair, where I have taken part in seminars, panels and interviews. Since December 2009 I have been a member of the Royal Society of Arts and Sciences in Gothenburg, and since 2022 of the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities.

Furthermore, I have had some academic assignments of a more administrative kind. Between 2006 and 2009 and then again between 2011 and 2015 I was a member of the Faculty board. In 2015–2016 I served at the board for appointing teachers at the faculty, and late 2016 I also served as a vice-dean for research and research students. I was a member of the Research Council for the Church of Sweden between 2003 and 2006 and between 2006 and 2008 a member of the board for educational sciences at the Swedish Research Council. I am a member of the scientific advisory board at Skaraborgsinstitutet since 2006 and a member of the board for the journal Ord & Bild since 2012.

Education and Teaching

I was born in Dalstorp, Sweden, in 1966 and grew up in Ulricehamn. After studies at a high school for engineering in Borås I moved to Gothenburg in 1985 to do a BA in philosophy, comparative literature and economics. Next stop was at a theological seminary in Örebro where I had my basic theological training. In 1991 I began my doctoral program in systematic theology at Lund University where I defended my thesis Karl Barth as the Other: A Study of the Barth-reception of Swedish Theology in the autumn of 1996. Two years later I became “docent” in systematic theology at the same university.

After I had finished my doctoral program I worked half time as a lecturer in systematic theology at the Stockholm School of Theology and half time in a research project at the Department of theology in Lund, run by professor Göran Bexell. In December 1999 I was appointed as a “pro futura”-scholar to the memory of Torgny Segerstedt by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation in cooperation with Uppsala University. My position as a lecturer in systematic theology here in Gothenburg started on January 1 2003 and on July 1 2008, I was promoted to a full professorship in systematic theology.